Wednesday, October 8, 2003
Texans settling on committee-style backfield
HOUSTON -- Mac Davis is a Texas singer-songwriter known for
pining about Lubbock in his rearview mirror and how hard it is to
Mack-Davis is the Texans' two-headed running back that seems to
be emerging as the answer to the team's dormant rushing attack.
Stacey Mack remains the nominal starter for Houston, which heads
to Tennessee on Sunday at 2-2 after its bye week. But shifty rookie
Domanick Davis is becoming a more prominent part of the Texans'
attack. In Houston's 24-20 victory over Jacksonville two weeks ago,
each had nine carries as they combined for 92 yards and a Mack
"We left a lot of yardage out there as a group, and I think
we're going to be better (as we enter) this part of the season,"
Injuries have affected the backfield's progress. Mack has had
sore toes on both feet. Davis missed training camp because of a
broken hand. Rookie Tony Hollings is still learning on the job
after major knee surgery last year.
Mack, a bruiser assigned mostly to short-yardage duty for four
years at Jacksonville, signed with the Texans in the offseason to
be the feature back. So far he has only averaged 2.9 yards per run,
and his 130-carry fumble-free streak stopped with back-to-back
drops against the Jaguars.
Davis, who has more of a scatback's build, was on the field for
the Texans' dramatic final drive against Jacksonville that ended
with David Carr's do-or-die sneak as time expired.
Mack said he's comfortable sharing the load depending on the
situation, as long as the running back corps performs well as a
"These young guys are learning, and I feel like we're going to
get better as a group," Mack said.
A productive running game would open up the passing game for
Carr, who was battered last season when teams weren't worried much
about the backfield tandem of James Allen and Jonathan Wells. Allen
left the team over the summer. Wells is hanging on as the Texans'
fourth-string tailback, getting most of his action on kick coverage
Hollings, picked up in the supplemental draft this year for a
2004 second-round pick, is eyed as a possible feature back of the
future, but fumble problems and inexperience have kept him from
getting much action.
"I'm happy with the way Stacey's running, and I'm happy with
the way Domanick's running, and Tony -- all those guys," Carr said.
"All those guys add something different to the football team.
Domanick does a great job catching the ball out of the backfield
and he's starting to learn his responsibilities in the passing
game, and Tony's the same way.
"You don't have to worry about Stacey as much because he knows
his protections and whatnot."
Carr said Davis showed great improvement against Jacksonville in
his blocking, a task young rushers often have trouble learning.
Carr is especially impressed that Davis has managed to soak up
offensive coordinator Chris Palmer's system so well despite being
sidelined in August.
"He didn't just sit on the (stationary) bike and pedal," Carr
said. "He actually took the time to come over and see what we were
^NOTES:@ Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher noted the Texans can
be dangerous with extra time to prepare. The Texans are 2-1 the
week after not playing a regular-season game. They have won both
their season openers and lost a shootout to Buffalo after their bye
last year. ... The Texans have considerably more yardage than this
time last year. They have 1,306 yards, up from 774 heading into the
fifth week of 2002. Most improvement has come through the air:
Houston has 887 yards passing, more than double the 418 yards at
this time last year.